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I’m a media studies student and thus probably part of “NCFOM”’s ideal audience, so although I could say a lot about it (certainly more than I could about the many other interesting things that are brought up in this blog), I’ll stick to a few relevant points…

Every person I’ve talked to about this film has tried to find meaning in it. The ending simply forces you to! Whether you can puzzle through it or not, its openness is at least refreshing for a Hollywood film. A friend of mine interpreted it all as meaning, “You never know what’s coming”, whether it’s a lunatic flipping a coin for your life, a car running a red light, or a mariachi band. You can try to prepare, as Josh Brolin’s character spent much of the movie doing, but the unexpected will happen. Eg, he didn’t know the door lock of his hotel room was going to shoot inwards and hit him – although the audience did.

Anyway, I think Tommy Lee Jones’ character saved the film from being totally bleak. I saw his dream about his father riding on ahead of him in the dark, to make camp and wait for him, as meaning that although he was going to die soon and go on to a strange, new place, he wouldn’t be alone when he got there – which is a hopeful thought. I’m interested how belief in a future life is portrayed in popular culture, though, so I don’t know if that was blatantly obvious or not.

There’s not much point getting worked up over the Oscars, because… they’re the Oscars! They’re pretty much a joke, or a horse race, for most film buffs. They don’t mean a whole lot more than a guarantee of an increase in tickets sold and DVDs rented for the winners, and don’t even reflect the views of the majority of the US movie going audience. Comedies are far less likely to win Oscars - “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine” (which will always be much dearer to me than “NCFoM”) never had a chance.

Hope that perhaps makes it seem just a bit less depressing!

I didn't get it, either. I had no idea that it was up for an award. Hard to believe.

Thanks, Michael, and also William, for recommending "The Open Door" by Theon Wright. I bought it and just finished it.
It was a very enjoyable and intriguing read.

I loved 'No Country' and would say Bardem's performance was far from 'one note'. At first glance, yes he's a psychotic, almost simple minded killer. However, there is a fascinating complexity to the character that Bardem brought out- look at his morality. He tells the woman "I gave him my word." Yet I thought how can this monster have his own set of values and morals.

Maybe some people wanted a certain type of conclusion. However, what would it have achieved? Some nice satisfaction for the audience and we move on. But that sense of nihilism is coming anyway. Killing one man wouldn't have made a difference.

Look how Tommy Lee Jones' character describes the more recent crimes. Not so much that they happen, but the complete lack of any regard by the perpertrators. Times are changing, and I think if you go into the film with a sense of that theme, it'll work for you.

Also, remember filmmakers making a nihilist film, and a film about nihilism are different things. The Coens always portray their worlds as bleak and uncaring, yet also show us those optimistic moments, and those moments of friendship.

I can see why this movie can be read as arty nihilism, but I think there's more going on it than that. Here's where my English degree comes in handy. (Or so I like to think. Humor me, I'm still paying for it.)

No Country for Old Men is the story of a fallen world. Tommy Lee Jones's character is one of the last few good men in it.

More importantly, I believe Javier Bardem's character was meant to represent a Devil figure. This is why he is such a blank slate, why he wanders the Earth so purposelessly, and is capable of such atrocity seemingly for the fun of it.

Notice, at the end, that he insists on paying the little boy for the shirt. He can't accept kindness; everything is a transaction for him because of who he is.

P.S. Try "There Will Be Blood." It was the better movie and should have won the award.

>I saw his dream about his father riding on ahead of him in the dark, to make camp and wait for him, as meaning that although he was going to die soon and go on to a strange, new place, he wouldn’t be alone when he got there – which is a hopeful thought.

That's a good observation, but remember that Jones' last words are, "And then I woke up." After which the screen goes black. So I had the impression that whatever hopefulness the dream may imply is undercut by the fact that it was only a dream, and when we "wake up" we know it's not real.

I agree about the Academy's disdain for comedies. It's amazing how underappreciated comedies, or even comedy-dramas, can be. I thought Waitress, for instance, deserved a lot more recognition than it received.

Anyway, I liked the Coen brothers a lot more when they were making movies like Raising Arizona. That one's great!

I agree with Michael. If Tommy Lee Jones in "No Country For Old Men" is the nearest we dare get to showing idealism in a cinematic character these days, I'll be spending even more time with my books...

Michael,
Interesting that you should say, "Anyway, I liked the Coen brothers a lot more when they were making movies like Raising Arizona. That one's great!"
I agree; it is great. Moreover, I think you should look at NCFOM as the dark flipside of Raising Arizona.
The main characters, played by Nic Cage and Randall "Tex" Cobb, are all re-imagined in NCFOM.
Terry

Oh- I didn’t remember that. Damn. Maybe it meant that he woke up and had to go back to dealing with all the awful stuff he encounters in his job, things that make it hard to hang on to hope. Am I stretching it a bit…?

T.G.C, I also preferred There Will Be Blood. It’s also a very dark (and beautiful) experience, though!

I loved There Will Be Blood. That was a brilliant film. And I loved Michael Clayton. I had a hard time with No Country for Old Men. (I liked Fargo much better. Perhaps because of the hopeful quality.)

I feel that I'm going to have to watch No Country again, just to see what I missed. (I was kind of sleepy.) But Michael Clayton and There Will be Blood? I WANT to see those again.

Sounds like a Sartre kind of story. Are we back to the Lost Generation?

"Thanks, Michael, and also William, for recommending "The Open Door" by Theon Wright. I bought it and just finished it.
It was a very enjoyable and intriguing read."

One of my favorite books. I have copied those pages that George Wright called the “master mind” that came through George by automatic writing. I have been studying those pages for the last ten years. I find those pages very deep and profound.

George Wright appears to have been a medium more interested in seeking knowledge than earning even one-dollar from his mediumship abilities. And the ending was a very good likely verification that this intelligence was not George Wright’s sub conscious doing his automatic writing.

I enjoyed reading about George and Nellie Wright’s personal life story and also found those words by this spirit intelligence very interesting. Can’t seem to find the page or pages where this intelligence claims to prove the nonexistence of evil. Help?

I loved this book and glad you enjoyed it also. As for the movie maybe what looks meaningless to us has profound implications in the universal scheme of things. I too found the ending disheartening. I like happy endings to my movies.

T.G.C wrote:

"No Country for Old Men is the story of a fallen world. Tommy Lee Jones's character is one of the last few good men in it."

Absolutely key point right there. And it's rather ironic, because Michael's original posting referenced his dislike of the movie for reasons which - IMO - are the exact point of the movie (ie. "what has become of the world"...it's now 'no country for old men'). **Spoiler alert, avert your eyes if concerned** Though Tommy Lee is a good man, through the progress of the movie you gradually realise that he just can't keep up with the 'evil' any more...and this is underlined by Bardem's escape at the end, in contrast to Tommy Lee contemplating the twilight of his own life.

I loved the movie - it is intentionally sparse and empty (contrast the use of music in "O Brother", to the almost complete lack of soundtrack in "No Country"). The dialogue is wonderful, and makes you think and ponder on things, without being intentionally obscure (IMO again). And as Michael mentioned, beautifully imaged.

On the other hand, I didn't get Fargo at all, and yet that is the movie most people reference to me as their favourite Coen brothers film. So I guess it can be a personal thing.

My statement about it all would be that movies shouldn't always have to show hope, or have the good guys win. It still gave plenty of glimpses into the souls of the characters...just they didn't get the happy ending this time.

Kind regards,
Greg

movies shouldn't always have to show hope, or have the good guys win. It still gave plenty of glimpses into the souls of the characters...just they didn't get the happy ending this time.

I'm not saying it needed a happy ending. I just think it needed an ending. As it was, I thought it went nowhere in the last half hour.

I also thought parts of it were needlessly obscure. For instance - *SPOILER* - when Tommy Lee Jones returns to the motel crime scene and is about to enter the room, there's a cut to Bardem waiting inside. Uh-oh! But when Jones goes in, there's no Bardem. What was that? Was Jones just imagining Bardem? Does Bardem have supernatural powers of dematerialization? Whatever the answer, I found it confusing and unnecessary.

But hey, the Academy loved it, so maybe I'm all wet.

MP wrote:

"For instance - *SPOILER* - when Tommy Lee Jones returns to the motel crime scene and is about to enter the room, there's a cut to Bardem waiting inside. Uh-oh! But when Jones goes in, there's no Bardem. What was that? Was Jones just imagining Bardem? Does Bardem have supernatural powers of dematerialization? Whatever the answer, I found it confusing and unnecessary."

I don't have the movie to hand, but my memory tells me that a window was shown in a shot in this scene, suggesting that Bardem had made his exit? I could be wrong though, perhaps my mind just filled in the blanks.

Kind regards,
Greg

It's the best movie to win Best Picture since Unforgiven and probably the best American movie since Fargo.

But, like my love of John Coltrane and soccer, I'm not going to try to argue anyone into it. There's no point to that. But I suspect once one gets over the more jarring aspects of the movie, notably the ending, and watches it again, it's greatness will emerge for them. I liked it a lot when I first saw it, but it was on repeat viewings and the way I could never get it out of my head that finally won me over to it.

... much like repeat listening of A Love Supreme and a lot of soccer watching finally made them major addictions.

One has to approach this decision from that of a student of literature. The story had no character development, no clear plot, there wasn't even a clear protaganist, or an antagonistic force. Therefore, the story clearly broke every rule that every story since the beginning of time has followed.

Therefore, according to some, it is brilliant.

Frankly, I found it to be a great film right up until the last 30 minutes or so. I suspect they shot hours and hours of good footage, and started to try to piece this together and they came to the Paramount with a 3 hour film. The Paramount executives said "Chop off an hour! Nobody wants to watch a 3 hour movie! It's too long"

And as such, we got a story which makes no sense at the end.

My other theory is the movie proves the old adage that it is impossible to translate a book to the screen.

Or it could just be that the book sucked just as much.

Regardless, all the people who want to appear cool will tell you that this was brilliant, without being able to explain why. :-)

"Regardless, all the people who want to appear cool will tell you that this was brilliant, without being able to explain why." :-)

Cool in who's eyes?

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